I am sure that I’m not alone in being one of those people who have passed by a sign for a place that looks and sounds interesting. I have driven past the turning to the village of Villebois-Lavalette so many times, that I have lost count. Well, I had absolutely no excuse this time because I was so close. It was a good choice, and I had to ask myself why I had taken this long to take that right turn along the small country road.
The first sight is of the fortified village…really impressive I’m sure that you’ll agree.
For a 1000 yrs there have been four castles on this site, with the walls and towers dating from the 12th century. Sitting on a 200m hill, it commands a perfect viewpoint over the rolling Charentaise countryside. As usual, I was unable to visit with Maggie, but I did steal a glimpse of the Romanesque chapel.
Strolling down in to village from the castle, there was a real feel of history as we meandered along narrow streets and alleys, and every now and again, a sneak peek of the lovely views of the countryside. Also in prime position is the 12th century church of Saint-Romain. I always wonder if they thought that they were nearer to God because it was at the top of the hill!
I love the local white charentaise stone. No matter how old, it always look fresh and clean, and even of a dull day, it seems to glow.
Dominating the main square is a truly magnificent 17th century market hall. I was taken aback at the size of it, and I had to marvel at the incredible oak beams that criss-crossed the roof. This was built to last! Throughout the centuries, this was, and still is, the hub of the village, with a weekly market and everyone catching up for a drink and a gossip.
As you can see, it wasn’t market day, but it was the perfect place to sit and have lunch.
I always think that there is something rather French about houses with blue shutters and the bedding airing out of the windows. Thankfully no rain expected this day!